Napalm Creek


 Cornell University Study

Peer reviewed study shows methane as it is produced today is dirtier than coal and oil.

Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations
Climatic Change - A letter

Received: 12 November, 2010 / Accepted: 13 March, 2011

Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro, Anthony Ingraffea


We evaluate the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas obtained by high-volume hydraulic fracturing from shale formations, focusing on methane emissions. Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the life-time of a well. These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas. The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured—as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids—and during drill out following the fracturing. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over the time horizon of the first few decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time horizon. The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.


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The Economic Consequences of Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction: Key Issues (PDF: 1.3M)

Eight new policy briefs summarize our Marcellus research on socio-economic issues. These policy briefs include the results of research on the role of county public health agencies in the event of an industrial accident and on why most states enact severance taxes to cover the public costs associated with natural gas extraction. They are published in a report on the socio-economic issues associated with Marcellus gas drilling in the Research and Policy Brief Series of Cornell University's Community & Regional Development Institute.

Susan Christopherson, September 2011


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How Should We Think About the Economic Consequences of Shale Gas Drilling?

Working Paper Series: A Comprehensive Economic Impact Analysis of Natural Gas Extraction in the Marcellus Shale

Susan Christopherson and Ned Rightor, May 2011



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The Costs of Fracking 

The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling’s
Environmental Damage

Tony Dutzik and Elizabeth Ridlington,
Frontier Group

John Rumpler,
Environment America Research & Policy Center
Fall 2012

“Fracking” has spread rapidly, leaving a trail of con­taminated water, polluted air, and marred landscapes in its wake. In fact, a growing body of data indicates that fracking is an environmental and public health disaster in the making.
However, the true toll of fracking does not end there. Fracking’s negative impacts on our environment and health come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs as well. In this report, we document those costs—rang­ing from cleaning up contaminated water to repairing ruined roads and beyond. Many of these costs are likely to be borne by the public, rather than the oil and gas industry. As with the damage done by previous ex­tractive booms, the public may experience these costs for decades to come.
The case against fracking is compelling based on its damage to the environment and our health alone. To the extent that fracking does take place, the least the public can expect is for the oil and gas industry to be held accountable for the damage it causes. Such accountability must include up-front financial assurances sufficient to ensure that the harms caused by fracking are fully redressed.

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 GAO report on shale

and public health risks

The new GAO reports describe the main environmental risks associated with unconventional shale resource development, including risks to air quality, land resources, wildlife, and surface water and groundwater quality.  While many assume that these risks can be mitigated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using its authority under national environmental laws, the GAO also clearly identifies key exemptions for or limitations in the applicability of these laws to oil and gas development activities that prevent EPA from taking any action.

For example:

• Hydraulic fracturing with fluids other than diesel is exempted from permit requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
• Release of hazardous air pollutants from oil and gas wells and their associated equipment cannot be aggregated and regulated as a major source of air pollution under the Clean Air Act, as typically is done with other industrial stationary sources.
• Typically, EPA requires permits for stormwater discharges at construction sites, which prevents sediment from entering nearby streams. These permits are not required for construction activities on oil and gas well sites.
• The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act established the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)––a publicly available database containing information about chemical releases from more than 20,000 industrial facilities––but oil and gas operators are not required to report chemical releases under TRI.
• EPA cannot treat oil and gas production wastes as hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
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Colborn Health Study

Results of this study indicate that many chemicals used during the the fracturing and drilling stages of gas operations may have long-term health effects that are not immediately expressed.

Click the file title below to see the study

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EPA Report - Pavillion, Wyoming

 Feds look at Pavillion, Wyoming

EPA Report: Natural Gas Fracking Linked to Water Contamination

A link to the EPA Report follows the article. The finding is likely to shape how the U.S. regulates and develops natural gas resources across the Eastern Appalachians

By Abrahm Lustgarten , Nicholas Kusnetz and ProPublica  | Friday, December 9, 2011

In a first, federal environment officials today scientifically linked underground water pollution with hydraulic fracturing, concluding that contaminants found in central Wyoming were likely caused by the gas drilling process.

The findings by the Environmental Protection Agency come partway through a separate national study by the agency to determine whether fracking presents a risk to water resources.

In the 121-page draft report released today, EPA officials said that the contamination near the town of Pavillion, Wyo., had most likely seeped up from gas wells and contained at least 10 compounds known to be used in frack fluids.

"The presence of synthetic compounds such as glycol ethers...and the assortment of other organic components is explained as the result of direct mixing of hydraulic fracturing fluids with ground water in the Pavillion gas field," the draft report states. "Alternative explanations were carefully considered."

The agency's findings could be a turning point in the heated national debate about whether contamination from fracking is happening, and are likely to shape how the country regulates and develops natural gas resources in the Marcellus Shale and across the Eastern Appalachian states.

Some of the findings in the report also directly contradict longstanding arguments by the drilling industry for why the fracking process is safe: that hydrologic pressure would naturally force fluids down, not up; that deep geologic layers provide a watertight barrier preventing the movement of chemicals towards the surface; and that the problems with the cement and steel barriers around gas wells aren't connected to fracking.

Environmental advocates greeted today's report with a sense of vindication and seized the opportunity to argue for stronger federal regulation of fracking.

"No one can accurately say that there is 'no risk' where fracking is concerned," wrote Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, on her blog. "This draft report makes obvious that there are many factors at play, any one of which can go wrong. Much stronger rules are needed to ensure that well construction standards are stronger and reduce threats to drinking water."

A spokesman for EnCana, the gas company that owns the Pavillion wells, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an email exchange after the EPA released preliminary water test data two weeks ago, the spokesman, Doug Hock, denied that the company's actions were to blame for the pollution and suggested it was naturally caused.

"Nothing EPA presented suggests anything has changed since August of last year--the science remains inconclusive in terms of data, impact, and source," Hock wrote. "It is also important to recognize the importance of hydrology and geology with regard to the sampling results in the Pavillion Field. The field consists of gas-bearing zones in the near subsurface, poor general water quality parameters and discontinuous water-bearing zones."

The EPA's findings immediately triggered what is sure to become a heated political debate as members of Congress consider afresh proposals to regulate fracking. After a phone call with EPA chief Lisa Jackson this morning, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told a Senate panel that he found the agency's report on the Pavillion-area contamination "offensive." Inhofe's office had challenged the EPA's investigation in Wyoming last year, accusing the agency of bias.

Residents began complaining of fouled water near Pavillion in the mid-1990s, and the problems appeared to get worse around 2004. Several residents complained that their well water turned brown shortly after gas wells were fracked nearby, and, for a time, gas companies operating in the area supplied replacement drinking water to residents.

Beginning in 2008, the EPA took water samples from residents' drinking water wells, finding hydrocarbons and traces of contaminants that seemed like they could be related to fracking. In 2010, another round of sampling confirmed the contamination, and the EPA, along with federal health officials, cautioned residents not to drink their water and to ventilate their homes when they bathed because the methane in the water could cause an explosion.

To confirm their findings, EPA investigators drilled two water monitoring wells to 1,000 feet. The agency released data from these test wells in November that confirmed high levels of carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene, and a chemical compound called 2 Butoxyethanol, which is known to be used in fracking.

Still, the EPA had not drawn conclusions based on the tests and took pains to separate its groundwater investigation in Wyoming from the national controversy around hydraulic fracturing. Agriculture, drilling, and old pollution from waste pits left by the oil and gas industry were all considered possible causes of the contamination.

In the report released today, the EPA said that pollution from 33 abandoned oil and gas waste pits 2013 which are the subject of a separate cleanup program 2013 are indeed responsible for some degree of shallow groundwater pollution in the area. Those pits may be the source of contamination affecting at least 42 private water wells in Pavillion. But the pits could not be blamed for contamination detected in the water monitoring wells 1,000 feet underground.

That contamination, the agency concluded, had to have been caused by fracking.

The EPA's findings in Wyoming are specific to the region's geology; the Pavillion-area gas wells were fracked at shallower depths than many of the wells in the Marcellus shale and elsewhere.

Investigators tested the cement and casing of the gas wells and found what they described as "sporadic bonding" of the cement in areas immediately above where fracking took place. The cement barrier meant to protect the well bore and isolate the chemicals in their intended zone had been weakened and separated from the well, the EPA concluded.

The report also found that hydrologic pressure in the Pavillion area had pushed fluids from deeper geologic layers towards the surface. Those layers were not sufficient to provide a reliable barrier to contaminants moving upward, the report says.

Throughout its investigation in Wyoming, The EPA was hamstrung by a lack of disclosure about exactly what chemicals had been used to frack the wells near Pavillion. EnCana declined to give federal officials a detailed breakdown of every compound used underground. The agency relied instead on more general information supplied by the company to protect workers' health.

Hock would not say whether EnCana had used 2 BE, one of the first chemicals identified in Pavillion and known to be used in fracking, at its wells in Pavillion. But he was dismissive of its importance in the EPA's findings. "There was a single detection of 2-BE among all the samples collected in the deep monitoring wells. It was found in one sample by only one of three labs," he wrote in his reply to ProPublica two weeks ago. "Inconsistency in detection and non-repeatability shouldn't be construed as fact."

The EPA's draft report will undergo a public review and peer review process, and is expected to be finalized by spring.

CLICK THE FILE TITLE BELOW to see the EPA Report  (Large File - may take time)
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Anonymous document raises concerns about leasing

A document was posted anonymously on the Alternet website by someone claiming that it came from the the gas industry. It is a series of talking points directing landsmen who are trying to get Ohio landowners to sign gas drilling leases to withhold information, avoid certain subjects, and redirect questions that have disquieting answers.  It has not been verified.  You be the judge. Nevertheless, it does raise legitimate concerns for a landowner to explore before signing a long term lease with a powerful industry that has abundant legal, financial, and political resources.


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